How To Get Into An Elite EMBA Program


Most elite programs look for managerial experience

Other Options Aside from an Executive MBA

There are different reasons for seeking an MBA. If it’s to gain a set of skills and your organization doesn’t really care where you get it, then you don’t need an elite university. If you seek an EMBA for the network, then an elite university is preferable, but even if Chicago is your post-MBA market, then a good “regional” EMBA like the University of Illinois in Chicago or Notre Dame would probably give you a fine Chicago network. Ohio State and UNC Chapel Hill are solid to good EMBA programs, but by no means elite and would not really help you with a Chicago network. Given that you are not with a major company, you may not need the brand that comes from an elite program — unless you are thinking long term after you leave your current employer.

As for Harvard’s GMP and PLD, these are condensed or accelerated experiences that don’t cover all the material of an MBA but do give you a lower price tag, a Harvard credential, and a high-quality set of classmates. If you don’t need the full MBA experience (i.e. your learning needs are more limited or you are primarily interested in getting ‘branded’) and you don’t want to commit more than six months or so, then these HBS programs may suit you.

The Right Time to Start an Executive MBA Program

At most EMBA programs, nine years’ work experience is sufficient to qualify for admission. However, managerial responsibility and strong career growth are more important than work experience per se. If you have no direct reports, then you won’t be a competitive applicant at top EMBA programs irrespective of years of experience or high GMAT.

How Adcoms Define “Managerial Experience”

Primarily it means direct reports/subordinates, but secondarily it means responsibility (such as job title, P&L responsibility, who you report to etc.) within the organization. It’s possible for someone to have no formal direct reports yet to play a very visible and senior level in the organization in terms of their responsibility and reporting line. Even these people would be expected to show that they have a good track record in coordinating the work of others (indirect leadership).

DON’T MISS: The Questions Asked Of EMBA Applicants or MBA Essays: 10 Crucial Things You Should Never Do

  • Kathleen Brennan

    Great article… I start EMBA at MIT next month; valuable advice here for applicants. Thanks

  • chris

    I am 48 years old. I might not start an EMBA until I am 49 or even 50. Am I too old for such a program?

    • JohnAByrne

      Definitely not. You’ll find a good number of people in their late 40s and early 50s in these programs. It’s a great time to think of an EMBA as a way to refresh your career, give yourself a generous gift of new knowledge and friends, and to bring to bear all the wonderful experience you’ve had to date. Go for it.

  • Great article. I work with EMBA clients, helping them get in to the most competitive programs and offer free initial consultations:

  • creatureji

    I am 31 years and currently pursuing EMBA @Kellogg .. My undergrad grades weren’t that great, but I spent significant amount of time starting and selling web businesses..

    I find EMBA @ Kellogg really amazing and so far it allowed me to talk and network with people and put together team to start new venture.

    F/T MBA programs are different from EMBA, and someone with 15+ years of experience shouldn’t quit work to be with F/T MBA students, other then intellectual power F/T students lack experience on what steps required to put together talented people to execute a plan which in returns generate profit.

    My advise for aspiring EMBA candidates is to have flavor of what they want to achieve in life, be laser focused and frame your ideas in structured way. This will help you connect with people who will understand you better and propel to the levels you want.

    Networking is always tricky, believe in what you want to do and don’t shy away of thoughts about what others will think off you… Speak your mind in social gathering and approach people fearlessly.

    • Julio Cardenas

      Hi, Pundit any admission tips for the Kellogg EMBA? That’s the program I intend to apply for. Thank you

      • pundit420

        several tips.. but I narrow down to top 3 from my experience and what I saw in the program..

        1) Do know your future plans and reflect it on your application as how it related to your past, current and program/ people can guide you.. I was more interested in gaining industry perspective from seasoned executives and thoughts about IT in finance.

        You will meet with some of the Top professors in all of US and I was lucky to meet with someone who enabled me start new venture.

        2) References, have your manager write strong reference letter for you, your accomplishment and how you can progress thru the ranks with this EMBA.

        It’s important because (in my opinion) EMBA students are expected to create own career path/find new job and not rely on career centre.. however they will support you

        3) Students love lively debates inside or outside classroom and what surprised me is ability to complete work and get time for outings/social life… I struggled first few months but learned techniques from them.

        You should also reflect on your application on how you can contribute to the class, stories from your experience in travel, projects, social work, entrepreneurship… opportunities…. More important..

        Not sure about other schools,, but most of the students have no ego.. they driven by instincts / intuition developed from years of experience/knowledge or from personal stories. It’s important you share some examples in interview which shows you have no ego and willing to work with someone even you don’t get along with.

        • Julio Cardenas

          Thank you very much for your useful advice. I’ll keep it in mind when I send my application. My best wishes for your endeavors.

  • Paul Davidsung

    Interesting commentary . I am thankful for the specifics , Does someone know if my company could possibly acquire a fillable OPM OF-306 version to type on ?

    • Ava Cueto

      Greetings Paul Davidsung ! my business partner got ahold of a blank OPM OF-306 document with this link